Back when I was a youth and heavily involved with 4-H and FFA, I raised market steers. It was a huge source of pride for me, that I would select, raise and show one of my own family’s steers. Our cattle are bred to be beef, not to win grand champion at cattle shows. Because of that I only won champion once in my whole 4-H and FFA career, HOWEVER I won or placed in the carcass contest (that is when the steer’s carcass is graded and judged) almost every year, and for a cattleperson, that values my final product, that meant tons more than a purple ribbon.
My cattle weren’t always “fluffly” at the fair (that means they didn’t have a lot of hair for me to style), but I was confident whoever purchased my calf was going to get a prime piece of beef that they would remember for years to come. I still have this same level of confidence when it comes to our cattle.
You remember that I quit my full-time job in town last spring. I am now living the dream on the ranch. Since I don’t have a steady income, my parents have graciously given me some steers to supplement my hog and sheep income. It has been a huge transition for me, to go from a salaried check every two weeks, to a couple of unknown checks a year. Budgeting is hard! These steers will be the majority of my income for the year – they will determine my quality of life, they will pay my bills. Because of this, because I know my current way of life depends on these animals, I want to do the best I can.
I want my clients to have an opportunity to purchase “prime” beef. Prime is the grade of beef that you get in fancy, expensive steakhouses. It is delicious. To get prime beef you need to have several things:
- good genetics
- good feed
- age (older calves tend to grade better than younger)
- happy, healthy cattle (no stress and a great vaccination plan)
Since I have excellent herd genetics, I have access to grain, grass, protein minerals, hay and almond parts, my calves will be coming 24 months, and they are not stressed and are healthy, I know I can grow some great beef. I know it.
This week my Dad and I created a place for me to “finish” these steers. Since they already weigh around 1,150 pounds and are fairly fat, they will not take long to finish out. Basically by giving these steers grain, they will gain faster and the meat will taste less like grass and more like creamy, beefy deliciousness. If I had to guess, I will probably have them slaughtered around 1,400 pounds.
The only reason I am able to do grain finished steers this year is because the price of corn is low, so I can actually afford it, and the drought. I have no grass to finish cattle on right now – so I either hauled these guys to the auction yard or I feed them grain, and I have too many people that wanted to buy local beef this year to auction yard them. I’ve been after my Dad for a few years to let me finish some beef with grain, so this is actually exciting for me. The one thing I forgot to plan for was – I don’t get to keep one of these to eat. I am raising some of the best beef of my life and it’s already spoken for. It’s my secret hope that this beef is so beautiful (and it will be), that my Dad decides that I need to do this again next year! Come back soon and I’ll let you know how they finished!
For other local meat options check out: